Table of Contents

AWS S3, Storage Buckets, AWS, S3, Intelligent Tiering, Frequent Access, Infrequent Access, Archival, Retrieval,

What is AWS S3 Storage?

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object storage service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It provides industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the web. AWS S3 allows customers to store and retrieve an unlimited amount of data, at any time and from any location.

As more and more businesses shift their infrastructure to Amazon Web Services, businesses processing the bulk of their workloads need an enormous amount of accessible data storage options. This is where  Simple Storage Service (S3) comes in. AWS S3 provides highly scalable and reliable object storage that is designed to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the web.

AWS S3 offers multiple storage classes with different features, durability, availability, and pricing, which can sometimes be confusing for users.

In this article, we will provide an overview of AWS S3 Storage Classes and Pricing, explaining the features and benefits of each class, as well as their costs. The aim of this article is to help readers have a better understanding of which storage class is most suitable for their business and how to optimize their AWS costs.


How does AWS S3 Storage work?

AWS S3 storage operates using an object storage model, where data is stored as objects rather than as blocks or files. Each object consists of a key, data, and metadata. The key is a unique identifier that is used to retrieve the object. The data is the actual content of the object, and the metadata provides additional information about the object, such as its size and creation date.

AWS S3 uses a simple web services interface to store and retrieve data. Users can upload and download data through a web-based management console, command-line tools, or through software development kits (SDKs). Once data is uploaded to S3, it is automatically replicated across multiple AWS Availability Zones to ensure high availability and durability.

AWS S3, Storage Buckets, AWS, S3, Intelligent Tiering, Frequent Access, Infrequent Access, Archival, Retrieval,

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What are different S3 Storage Classes?

AWS S3 provides a range of storage classes to meet the needs of various use cases, applications, and budgets. Each storage class is designed to optimize performance, availability, durability, and cost based on the frequency of access to the data.

Some data is frequently accessed and requires low latency, while other data is rarely accessed and can tolerate longer retrieval times. Therefore, S3 storage classes provide customers with different options to store data, based on the access patterns and cost requirements. Understanding the different S3 storage classes and their features is crucial for optimizing the storage costs and performance of applications running on AWS.


AWS S3 Storage Classes Comparison Table – Cheat Sheet

The comparison table below provides a quick overview of the features, use cases, and pricing for the different AWS storage classes.

Storage Class Features Use Cases Pricing (US East – N. Virginia)
S3 Standard Highly available and scalable object storage Frequently accessed data with low latency and high throughput $0.0230 per GB-month (first 50 TB), $0.0225 per GB-month (over 50 TB)
S3 Intelligent-Tiering Automatically moves data between two access tiers based on changing access patterns Data with unknown or changing access patterns $0.0230 per GB-month (first 50 TB), $0.0225 per GB-month (over 50 TB) plus monitoring and automation fees
S3 Standard-Infrequent Access Lower-cost option for infrequently accessed data Data that is accessed less frequently but requires rapid access when needed $0.0125 per GB-month
S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access Same features as S3 Standard-Infrequent Access, but stores data in a single Availability Zone Infrequently accessed data that can be easily reproduced $0.01 per GB-month
S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval Low-cost, durable, and secure storage with millisecond access to data Long-term storage of data that is seldom accessed but requires rapid retrieval when needed $0.0035 per GB-month plus retrieval fees
S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval Same features as S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval, but with slower retrieval times Long-term storage of data that is seldom accessed but requires low-cost retrieval $0.0025 per GB-month plus retrieval fees
S3 Glacier Deep Archive Lowest-cost storage option for data archiving and long-term backup Data that is seldom accessed and has a long retention period $0.00099 per GB-month
S3 Outposts S3 storage and data management on-premises Customers who require on-premises data storage with the same APIs and tools as in the cloud $0.0230 per GB-month (first 50 TB),$0.0225 per GB-month (over 50 TB)

AWS S3 Storage Classes & Pricing

It is essential for AWS users to have a good understanding of the different classes of S3 storage and their pricing to ensure they are utilizing the most cost-effective option for their use case. In the following sections, we will take a detailed look at each S3 storage class, how it works, its features, and pricing options.

Amazon S3 Standard

Amazon S3 Standard is a storage class that provides durable, highly available, and scalable object storage for a wide variety of use cases, such as backups, disaster recovery, big data analytics, and content distribution. S3 Standard is designed for frequently accessed data, with low latency and high throughput performance.

How does S3 Standard work?

It stores data across multiple Availability Zones (AZs) in a region, providing high availability and durability, as data is replicated multiple times across different facilities. It offers automatic data synchronization and versioning, and users can configure lifecycle policies to transition objects to other storage classes or delete them when they are no longer needed.

S3 Standard Pricing

S3 Standard pricing is based on storage used per month, data transfer in and out of S3, and number of requests. There are no upfront fees or minimum commitments, and users only pay for the services they use. The pricing varies by region, and the first 50 TB of storage is charged at a lower rate, making it an affordable option for small to medium-sized businesses.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.0230 per GB-month for the first 50 TB, and $0.0225 per GB-month for over 50 TB
  • Data Transfer: $0.09 per GB for data transfer out to the internet, and $0.02 per GB for data transfer in
  • Requests: $0.0004 per 1,000 GET requests and $0.005 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests.

Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering

Amazon S3 Intelligent-Tiering is a storage class that automatically moves objects between two access tiers (frequent and infrequent) based on changing access patterns. It is designed for workloads with unknown or changing access patterns, providing cost savings by automatically moving less frequently accessed data to a lower-cost storage tier.

S3 Intelligent-Tiering is ideal for workloads with changing or unknown access patterns, such as backup and restore, disaster recovery, and compliance archives. It is also useful for cost optimization, as it can automatically move data to a lower-cost storage tier when it is not frequently accessed.

How does S3 Intelligent-Tiering work?

S3 Intelligent-Tiering stores data in two access tiers: Frequent and Infrequent.

  • Frequent Access Tier – New objects are automatically stored in the frequent access tier, and S3 Intelligent-Tiering monitors access patterns to automatically move objects that haven’t been accessed in 30 days to the infrequent access tier.
  • Infrequent Access Tier – When an object in the infrequent access tier is accessed, it is automatically moved back to the frequent access tier. S3 Intelligent-Tiering also automatically archives objects to Glacier Deep Archive after 180 days of no access.

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S3 Intelligent-Tiering Pricing:

S3 Intelligent-Tiering pricing is based on storage used per month, data transfer in and out of S3, and the number of object transitions between access tiers. There are no upfront fees or minimum commitments, and users only pay for the services they use.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.0230 per GB-month for the first 50 TB, and $0.0225 per GB-month for over 50 TB
  • Data Transfer: $0.09 per GB for data transfer out to the internet, and $0.02 per GB for data transfer in object transitions.
  • Object Transitions: $0.0025 per 1,000 object transitions between access tiers (in both directions)

S3 Standard-Infrequent Access

Amazon S3 Standard-Infrequent Access is a storage class that provides durable, highly available, and secure object storage for long-lived, but less frequently accessed data. It offers the same low latency and high throughput performance as S3 Standard but at a lower cost.

How does S3 Standard-Infrequent Access work?

S3 Standard-Infrequent Access stores data across multiple Availability Zones in a region, like S3 Standard, providing high availability and durability. However, it is designed for infrequently accessed data and provides a lower cost option for storing such data. Users can configure lifecycle policies to transition objects to other storage classes, such as S3 Glacier, after a specified period of time.

S3 Standard-Infrequent Access Pricing

S3 Standard-Infrequent Access pricing is based on the storage used per month, the data transfer in and out of S3, and the number of requests. The pricing varies by region, and like other storage classes, there are no upfront fees or minimum commitments. It is a good option for customers who need to store large amounts of long-lived, infrequently accessed data and require the same performance and availability as S3 Standard.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.0125 per GB-month for the first 50 TB, and $0.012 per GB-month for over 50 TB.
  • Data Transfer: $0.09 per GB for data transfer out to the internet, and $0.01 per GB for data transfer in.
  • Requests: $0.001 per 1,000 GET requests and $0.01 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests.

S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access

S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone-IA) is a storage class that stores data in a single Availability Zone, providing a cost-effective option for infrequently accessed data that does not require the level of resilience offered by S3 Standard. It is ideal for data that can be recreated or that is already stored elsewhere.

How does S3 One Zone-IA work?

Data is stored in a single AZ and has a lower durability than S3 Standard, as it is not replicated across multiple AZs. S3 One Zone-IA offers the same retrieval times and access patterns as S3 Standard, and users can also configure lifecycle policies to transition objects to other storage classes or delete them.

S3 One Zone-IA Pricing

S3 One Zone-IA pricing is based on storage used per month, data transfer in and out of S3, and number of requests. Users only pay for the services they use, and there are no minimum commitments or upfront fees. The pricing for S3 One Zone-IA is lower than S3 Standard as it offers lower durability.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.0125 per GB-month for all storage
  • Data Transfer: $0.09 per GB for data transfer out to the internet, and $0.01 per GB for data transfer in
  • Requests: $0.0004 per 1,000 GET requests and $0.005 per 1,000 PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests.

S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval

S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval is a storage class that provides secure, durable, and scalable object storage for long-term data archiving and backup. It offers  and retrieval of any amount of data, with the added advantage of instant data access when needed. This class is ideal for storing large amounts of data that are rarely accessed, such as historical records, financial records, and medical records.

How does S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval work

Data is stored in secure vaults and is not immediately accessible, with retrieval times ranging from one to five minutes. It offers a choice of three retrieval options: Expedited, Standard, and Bulk, with varying retrieval times and costs.

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S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval Pricing

S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval pricing is based on storage used per month, retrieval requests, data transfer in and out of S3, and the retrieval option chosen. The pricing for S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval is lower than S3 Standard and S3 One Zone-IA, making it an affordable option for long-term data archiving and backup.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.004 per GB-month for all storage
  • Data Transfer: $0.09 per GB for data transfer out to the internet, and $0.01 per GB for data transfer in
  • Requests: $0.01 per 1,000 retrieval requests

Retrieval Options Pricing

  • Expedited: $0.03 per GB retrieved
  • Standard: $0.01 per GB retrieved
  • Bulk: $0.0025 per GB retrieved

S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval

Amazon S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval is a storage class designed for data that is rarely accessed but needs to be retrieved quickly when requested. It is an economical and secure option for long-term data retention, backup and archival use cases, and is ideal for workloads with retrieval times ranging from minutes to hours.

How does S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval work?

S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval stores data in archives that can be accessed through expedited or standard retrieval options. The expedited retrieval option allows data to be accessed in 1-5 minutes, while the standard retrieval option takes 3-5 hours. Users can also configure their retrieval policy based on retrieval time and cost to optimize their retrieval process.

S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval Pricing

S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval pricing is based on storage used per month, data transfer out of S3 Glacier, and the number of requests. There are no upfront fees or minimum commitments, and users only pay for the services they use. The pricing varies by region.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.004 per GB-month
  • Data Transfer: $0.05 per GB for data transfer out to the internet
  • Requests: $0.01 per 1,000 retrieval requests and $0.0025 per 1,000 provisioned capacity units (PCUs)

S3 Glacier Deep Archive

Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive is a storage class designed for long-term data retention, backup and archive use cases, and is ideal for workloads with retrieval times ranging from hours to days. It is an extremely low-cost storage option for data that is rarely accessed but needs to be retained for compliance or regulatory reasons.

How does S3 Glacier Deep Archive work?

S3 Glacier Deep Archive stores data in archives that can be accessed through bulk retrieval options. The bulk retrieval option allows data to be accessed within 12 hours. Users can also configure their retrieval policy based on retrieval time and cost to optimize their retrieval process.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive Pricing

S3 Glacier Deep Archive pricing is based on storage used per month, data transfer out of S3 Glacier, and the number of requests. There are no upfront fees or minimum commitments, and users only pay for the services they use. The pricing varies by region.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of Feb 2023):

  • Storage: $0.00099 per GB-month
  • Data Transfer: $0.05 per GB for data transfer out to the internet
  • Requests: $0.0025 per 1,000 retrieval requests and $0.0025 per 1,000 provisioned capacity units (PCUs)

Amazon S3 Outposts

Amazon S3 Outposts is a service that brings the reliability, low latency, and scalability of Amazon S3 to your on-premises environment. With Amazon S3 Outposts, you can store and access data in your own data center or colocation facility while still enjoying the same APIs, management console, and features as in the cloud. This allows you to meet data residency requirements, run applications in remote locations with limited or no internet connectivity, or simply to reduce data transfer costs.

How does S3 Outposts work?

S3 Outposts consists of a fully managed storage rack that connects to your local network and hosts S3 storage and compute resources. You can choose between two variants: S3 Outposts with S3 Object Lock and S3 Outposts without S3 Object Lock.

S3 Object Lock adds another layer of protection to your data by preventing it from being deleted or overwritten for a specified retention period, helping you meet compliance and governance standards.

S3 Outposts is designed to be integrated with other AWS services, such as Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda, Amazon RDS, and AWS Glue. This allows you to build hybrid applications that use both on-premises and cloud resources, with consistent APIs and security policies.

How are S3 Outposts priced?

S3 Outposts pricing is based on the storage capacity and network data transfer used per month, with no upfront fees or minimum commitments. The pricing is similar to that of Amazon S3, with the additional cost of the Outposts hardware and installation.

Pricing for US East (N. Virginia) Region (as of February 2023):

  • Storage: $0.023 per GB-month for the first 50 TB, and $0.0225 per GB-month for over 50 TB
  • Data Transfer: $0.02 per GB for data transfer in, and $0.09 per GB for data transfer out
  • Outposts Hardware: varies depending on the model and configuration.

Conclusion

Amazon S3 offers a wide range of storage classes to cater to various use cases and workloads. Users can make decisions on which storage class to use by comparing the features, functionality, and pricing.

  • For frequently accessed data, S3 Standard or S3 Intelligent-Tiering may be the best option, while for less frequently accessed data, S3 Standard-Infrequent Access or S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access may be more cost-effective.
  • For archiving data for long-term storage, S3 Glacier and S3 Glacier Deep Archive are ideal choices.

It is also essential to have a FinOps strategy to optimize costs when running workloads on AWS. A FinOps strategy helps businesses align their technology spending with their business objectives, enabling them to optimize costs in the long run while maximizing value form their resources. Click here for a demo to learn more about how we can help you optimize your AWS workloads and reduce your cloud costs.